albionwood (albionwood) wrote in publicradio,

Pledge Drive success

We had a fantastically successful pledge drive show on Oak & Thorn - taking in just over $4,000 in pledges from all sources. (Including at least one Website pledge - perhaps one of you?) For comparison, we used to do about $1,500, and our previous best was last Spring at $2,300. So this was a HUGE jump, caused in large part by a challenge grant: one listener pledged $1,000 (at $84/month) IF and only IF, we could get one more listener to do the same! Well, we did, so there was $2K all at once, not even halfway through the show. That of course created momentum and energy, so the calls just kept coming in.

I take some credit as well, for developing a new style of pitching, focused around the pitches by musicians I recorded at music festivals last year. We had at least one caller cite a specific pitch (from Dougie MacLean) as the reason they called. That's really gratifying, both because I wrote that pitch and because it's fairly rare that a single pitch will actually motivate an individual to pledge. Even without the two big pledges we would have been around $2000, which would have been considered a success (our goal was $1,650).

It was also a lot of fun! My co-host and I have an easy rapport when pitching together, which helps a LOT, and we actually enjoy the process. Especially since we learned the listener-focused pitch strategies, which shorten the pledge breaks, focus on content, and sound better. We go into each 5-minute pledge break with a plan, including an exit strategy, so there's almost no flailing around for something to say. Each pitch is crafted around the show content and/or the community connection, the two most powerful attractions for our listeners. Even loupnoir, who dislikes the beg-a-thons, actually listened to and liked the whole show!
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I hate to admit this, but I was on-air on one pledge drive (KCSN in Los Angeles) and I actually enjoyed it. My shame knows no bounds!
What shame? Pledge drive SHOULD be enjoyable - for the programmer and the listener as well!

Whatever you are feeling when you are on-air will be communicated to your listeners, so if you're not enjoying it they won't be either. Conversely, if you're having fun they will stay tuned and pay closer attention, and you'll be more successful.

Our attitudes toward pledge drive really changed when Mike Wallace, of Wallace Creative, showed us how to do listener-focused pitching and structured pledge breaks. Just that little change tightened up our breaks and allowed us to raise the same money in 7 days that used to take 10 to 14; plus the listeners liked it and didn't tune out so much. Material from John Sutton helped as well.

My goal now is to make the pledge drive show something to look forward to - not just for me, but for the listeners. We seem to have done that this time!